No way, Jose
‘Roman Abramovich is agonising over the prospect of sacking Jose Mourinho,’ is the opening paragraph from the Daily Express‘ Tony Banks on Monday morning. Which is bizarre, considering the Express themselves stated with certainty last Monday that defeat to Liverpool would spell the end of Mourinho’s tenure.
Upon reading the headline ‘What if last season was a blip and Jose’s players aren’t that good?’ in the Daily Mail, Mediawatch rubbed its hands with glee. Martin Samuel is busy absolving Jose Mourinho of any blame whatsoever.
For it is Chelsea (of whom Mourinho is the manager, remember), who are ‘the obvious under-performers’, not the Portuguese.
‘Who has the true c.v. of substance here?’ asks Samuel, ‘Nemanja Matic, for instance, with his one fine season in English football, or Mourinho’s eight national title and three European trophies across four countries?’
And who has the true c.v. of substance between Manchester United’s top goalscorer and evidently most potent attacking threat Anthony Martial and their under-pressure manager Louis van Gaal? Is Martial still to blame for United’s lack of goals?
Samuel continues: ‘What if last year, not this, was the exception? What if Chelsea overachieved when winning the league?’
Chelsea’s lowest ever Premier League finish since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 was sixth three years ago; this season, not last, is very much the exception.
Samuel reserves much of his ire for Matic, John Terry and last season’s PFA Premier League Player of the Year Eden Hazard. ‘And Hazard to Real Madrid? They don’t buy players on the back of one brilliant shift,’ he writes. ‘Gareth Bale destroyed Inter Milan in October 2010 and it was September 2013 when he finally got his move to the Bernabeu.’
This is a far cry from what Samuel wrote back in April when discussing a possible Manchester United move for Gareth Bale: ‘Yet in England, with the possible exception of Eden Hazard, Bale would stand apart.’ But wasn’t this just ‘one brilliant shift’?
‘What if Chelsea’s squad has been overestimated?’ asks Samuel. For what it’s worth, 15 out of 17 of his Daily Mail colleagues tipped Chelsea’s ‘overestimated’ squad for the title in their pre-season predictions. It’s just a shame that Samuel didn’t take part; presumably he would have tipped them for relegation.
Mourinho is certainly under pressure at Chelsea, and the Mirror Online believe the Portuguese could be on his way out sooner rather than later. Why? Because of ‘spooky similarities’.
Said ‘spooky similarities’ are predictably with the end of his initial Stamford Bridge reign in 2007, so let’s take a look.
At number one is ‘Familar foes top the Premier League table’. Arsenal and Manchester City were the top two when Mourinho parted ways with the Blues in September 2007 and are in the current table (though in a different order), while Manchester United were and are fourth. It’s almost like those three sides are consistently quite good.
Next is ‘Moaning at referees’. Mourinho moans at referees quite a lot. He did it at Porto, at Inter Milan and at Real Madrid. This isn’t new.
‘Poor run of form’ is the third ‘spooky similarity’. That bears a ‘spooky similarity’ with Tim Sherwood’s sacking at Aston Villa and Brendan Rodgers’ departure from Liverpool.
The succinct fourth similarity is: ‘A team from a cold country on the outskirts of Europe comes to Stamford Bridge for a Champions League encounter Chelsea are expected to win.’ Basically, Mourinho’s last game was against Rosenborg in the Champions League and their next game this season is against Dynamo Kyiv in the same competition. Norway and Ukraine aren’t exactly the same.
There is no mention of the non-spooky non-similarities between Mourinho’s first spell – which saw him sacked in September after six games with Chelsea in 5th – and his current one, which sees the Blues in 15th after 11 games in November.
Stats what you get
The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Star, The Times and the Daily Mail came to a unanimous agreement on Wayne Rooney’s performance against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Rooney had United’s only shot on target but was again – along with the rest of his team-mates – disappointing in the 0-0 draw. The above four newspapers handed the 30-year-old a rating of 5/10, with no United player scoring lower.
Leave it to The Sun to ruin the party. They gave Rooney a 7/10, with no United player scoring higher. ‘Opta-powered’ stats, eh?
C-c-called a U-turn
Ladies and gentlemen, Garth Crooks has chosen a 4-4-2 with players in their correct positions for his Premier League team of the week for BBC Sport.
Fear not, as Garth Crook is still Garth Crooks. Having chosen Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho as one of his central defenders, Crooks chornicles his own rather bizarre U-turn.
‘I said last week that Sakho might be surplus to requirements once Jurgen Klopp gets his chequebook out in the transfer window. But the way Sakho’s playing the new boss might start building his team around the France international.’
From ‘surplus to requirements’ to ‘building a team around him’ within the space of a week; that’s excellent, even for Garth.
Ask some simple questions
All from Sky Sports News (your home of sports questions):
Q: Why aren’t Manchester Utd scoring?
A: Their best striker is on the left-wing and they don’t create much.
Q: Will Garde keep Villa in the Premier League?
Q: Are Tottenham in the title race?
Q: Should Butland be England’s number one?
There will be much disappointment at Harry Redknapp’s (and Crooks’) decision to go with a simple 4-4-2 formation for their respective Premier League teams of the week. Redknapp may have plumped for his favourite formation for the Daily Telegraph, but the chosen personnel has Mediawatch scratching their heads.
Redknapp picks two holding midfielders – Etienne Capoue and Lucas Leiva. Capoue is at left-back, with Lucas on the right wing. Stranger still is the presence of Marc Albrighton – an actual right-winger – next to Riyad Mahrez in central midfield.
Wondering what the top football story of the day is at 11:30am? Well, according to the MailOnline, it’s: ‘Liverpool players are having a scream under new boss Klopp… and they celebrated by dressing up for Halloween with the WAGs!’
Of course it is.
One too many
A note to Charlie Wyett of The Sun and Matt Dickinson of The Times: Still calling Jose Mourinho ‘the Special One’ is laborious, never mind calling him any of a) The Haunted One, b) The Baffled One, c) The Impotent One, or d) The Struggling One.
Headline of the day
‘CAUGHT MARTIAL’ – Daily Star